Sequential/DSI Monosynths

I just acquired a Sequential Pro 3 after learning a bit of history about the Evolver (which I got interested in because of Rob Hordijk). I stumbled across the following video:

Honestly, I found it a bit of a shock, because David Smith is just producing all these lovely adventurous sounds out of this tiny box way back in 2003!

So I looked around here and I didn’t see that anyone had previously a started a thread specifically on Sequential/DSI monosynths and all the various fun things one might do.

For me, one of the first steps to getting familiar with a synth is to ping the filter w/ a pulse from an LFO, in the case of the Pro 3, it’s a great way to get familiar w/ CV self-patching.

  1. LFO1 pulse wave
  2. Route LFO 1 to CV 1 OUT via the mod matrix, run a short cable from CV 1 OUT into AUDIO IN
  3. Turn down all the oscillators.
  4. Press HOLD and strike any key once to keep the VCA open.
  5. Turn up EXT IN

For an effect similar to the Hordijk System or the Benjolin - use the OB6 filter because it pings beautiful but doesn’t self-oscillate.

Other things to try w/ this basic patch - modulate the cutoff w/ an audiorate triangle wave, sequence the cutoff w/ the sequencer using EXT IN as the trigger, etc.

4 Likes

For evolver users there is a really nice in depth guide: https://medias.audiofanzine.com/files/definitive-guide-to-evolver-480676.pdf
It really shows how much various sounds you can achieve from a monosynth. I should probably give mine a little more chance as playing with a rock/jazz band the controls were not so imediate so I favored Dreadbox Erebus over it.

2 Likes

Evolver was one of my first synths, loved the sound so much, hated the interface

1 Like

You should try mininova then, compared to it evolver interface is pure joy to use :smiley:
But jokes aside I agree with you in general and I wonder what might be a better interface in the same form factor. I sure wish the encoders would be replaced with potentiometers. I don’t know why but despite encoders giving feedback by having discrete click steps it still somewhat feels not so precise as potentiometers for me.
Also the selection by rows with shift buttons required constant reading of labels which is less than ideal in live situation, maybe with time I would remember it by heart where everything is. But on the other hand it is hard to devise something else given the space. Maybe it could be doable with mini potentiometers to have row of potentiometers for each row?

1 Like

I had a keyboard Evolver for a year or so, and while I loved the overall voice architecture, I was always sort of disappointed by the sounds I got out of it. I sold it to replace with a Pro 2 since it looked to me like a refinement of the Evolver idea. It’s a much better sounding synth in my opinion, though that could just come down to how you patch it. It quickly became my favorite synth and now it’s my only keyboard synth.

There are just so many ways to patch it. The FM, AM, and waveshaping sound so good that I’m often using those alone to create the main timbre of a voice, and then just using the filter and feedback as a sort of resonator to play the voice through.

It makes for an incredible effects processor as well, much like the Evolver (though that’s where I do miss the Evolver’s stereo design). And it’s my main controller for my modular system.

4 Likes

Here’s a way to make it ulgier and more confusing: Easier Operation Of Your DSI Evolver

5 Likes

Cool! Part of the reason I jumped on the Pro 3 was the Evolver genetics + modular integration. I’ve tried all the basic stuff (CV notes, gates) and it appears to work reasonably well. What does your modular integration look like, are you mostly doing it via MIDI or CV, or a combination of both?

I’m mostly just using the CV inputs and outputs directly with the modular. It’s a lot more powerful than it seems at first though, because you can use the modulation matrix to mix whatever parts of the synth you want before sending them out of the CV jacks.

So for example you can handle pitch and vibrato on the same CV output, making use of the Pro 2’s or 3’s LFO’s and freeing up your modular ones. And since you can also use the mod matrix like a VCA, you can get all sorts of expressive control over the CV before it makes its way out the jacks.

Oh wow, I didn’t consider this. I think you’re talking about the fact that there’s Mod Amount destinations for each non-fixed modulation slot in the matrix?

1 Like

Yes, so for example you could use Mod 1 to send an LFO to CV Output 1, but leave the amount at 0. Then route your Modwheel to increase the Mod 1 amount, and now you’re controlling that LFO output with a VCA opened by the wheel. You can get incredibly complex stuff going on this way, stacking modulators on top of each other. I’m almost always using all 16 mod slots when I interface the Pro 2 with my rack.

1 Like

I currently (temporarily) have both pro 2 and Pro 3! Does anybody have any questions about the differences between the two?

My first observations are that they are more different than I expected! I thought there would be an obvious standout, but it’s hard to say. The pro 2’s more flexible filter routing system is a huge plus, and I don’t miss the third filter from the pro 3 at all. I like the digital wavetables on the 3 a lot better, and surprisingly I like the feel of more resistant knobs on the 3.

I really like the extra oscillator on the 2 and the sound shaping seems a lot deeper, but I like the base sound of the 3 better (I think!). The feedback seems more straightforward and easy to use on the 3.

As far as effects go, the threes got a lot of them and they all sound fine, but the two’s four independent delays are a lot of fun and I find myself doing more design with them vs just slapping a flanger on at the end of the chain like I do with 3.

4 Likes

I use the 2’s delays for sound design a lot, too. You can get some incredibly convincing Karplus-Strong strings out of it by using the feedback for the string and the delays like a body resonator. I love the filters built into them.

Another trick I like is using an unheard oscillator to modulate the delay feedback. You can get it sounding quite a bit like you have a sample rate reducer in the feedback path that way, with repeats getting crunchier and more aliased as they ring out.

The way the BBD repitches stuff sounds awesome, too. I have several patches set up with full feedback on the delay, and the modwheel controlling the delay time so that I can play something high pitched into a short BBD, then push the wheel up to stretch out the buffer. It sounds especially cool with high pitched AM and FM stuff, the way the aliased sound stretches out and gets kind of fuzzy and smeared can create really lovely textures.

You know, the naming of the Pro 2 has always been odd to me, but it seems even more out of place after the release of the Pro 3. I feel like the Pro 2 should have been named the Evolver 2, and the Pro 3 should’ve been named the Pro 2.

5 Likes

Do you still have both are did you settle on one? After more time with both did your opinions evolve? The next thing I save up for is going to be a monosynth and its likely going to be a pro 2 or pro 3 (though the dominion 1 and sub 37 CV are also in the running :slight_smile: ).

I spent about 15 min with the pro 3 at a shop and I thought it was quite immediate and fun. I liked the easy feedback routing options. I’ve never had a chance to try out a pro 2.

I have a modest Eurorack system and am interested in integrating the mono with the modular. I like sound design and learning more about synthesis, but the modular is a bit playground for that and I don’t think I want this mono user interface to favor the more immediate and playable with options to delve deeper as needed/wanted.

It’s nice to have so many good choices.

The Pro 2 remains.

I loved the sound of the Pro 3 but it came down to being able to get a wider variety of sounds out of the pro 2. (And maybe slightly that Pro 3 had a higher resale value at decision time).

While the Pro 3 had the onboard effects, the more refined implementation of tuned feedback, the more interesting wave tables, the Moog style filter, I kept returning to the Pro 2 for the parallel filters, and the greater flexibility of it’s oscillators.

With Pro 3 I loved the analog oscillators and the ability to do chords, but I was stuck with oscillator three matching 1 and 2 (of course you can have it be different but that didn’t feel like a pleasant limitation). Also I found with the gain staging, I had to work harder to find a non-overdriven sound. I kept thinking ‘I wish I could use all three of these oscillators with the wavetables’ ‘i wish there was something else I could do with these filters’ and there it was, the Pro 2.

I didn’t use either of the sequencers much, the Pro 3’s is deeper I hear, but I didn’t miss anything on Pro 2s.

Happy to answer any more questions!

2 Likes

Thanks for your insight. I think my remaining question relates to the workflow and UI/UX of each: does either one feel more immediate to program and/or tweak live while you play? The pro 2 has the feature set I want and I like the sound but I worry that it may require more menu diving for an instrument that I want to be quick and tactile. Do you regularly need to drive deeper into the pro 2 menus? Did you find that the streamlined feature set of the pro 3 streamlined how you interacted with it? The dominion 1 and subsequent 37 and matriarch(?) remain contenders because they sound good, are feature rich (though not as wealthy as the pro 3/3) and seem so immediate to use

Edit: basically, I think I’m asking: which had more fun factor for you when you actually sat down to use them?

I bought a Pro 2 a few weeks ago and I’m pleased with the depth and variety it provides. I can’t comment on the Pro 3 much, as I haven’t used it, but I did compare and one difference that stood out was that the Pro 3 sequencer has a few more features (like ratcheting), but less lanes as far as I could gather from the manual. The Pro 2 sequencer is pretty great. I would’ve liked something with an extra octave on the keyboard and some polyphony, but I also wanted an arp and good sequencer and it seemed like I couldn’t have both.

The Pro 2 is not “menu dive”-y at all. There’s very few parameters that you don’t have knobs but they’re never more than two button presses away - you select the general area (e.g. Envelope 4), and then you instantly see the (up to) four pages that exist for that part in the display. If you need a different page you select it with the soft button and then use the encoders to set the parameters. It’s simple enough that you can build up muscle memory for it.

Also, and I hope this isn’t overstepping a boundary to say this, it sounds like maybe you’re pontificating a lot over small differences? I do this myself a lot and I did it this time too (and I’ll do it again!), but it’s important to consider that you might actually be happy with several of the items on your list, because it’s not like there’s only one synth that’s right. Despite not having used the Pro 3 I’d be very surprised if the best answer to your last question isn’t that they’re both great synths and fun to play, and even if the differences between them don’t cancel out exactly, you’ll have a great time with either.

1 Like

The menu diving was similar, pretty minimal in both cases. With the pro 2 the knobs were easy to turn in comparison. The pro 3 knobs were so stiff, it felt like a design flaw. Another slight benefit of the 2 over the 3 is the second ribbon controller. It hasn’t come up often that I’ve assigned the mod wheel and both ribbons to be modulation sources, but I’ve been happy to have them.

1 Like

As another point of comparison, I had a Mono Evolver Keyboard before. Arguably it could do more wacky sounds, and I really (really really) miss being able to pan the oscillators in the stereo field. But the difference in build quality between that and the Pro 2 is just immense. The Pro 2 is high quality, in comparison the MEK had an ugly washed-out display and wobbly knobs and buttons. It feels very good.

(Still regret selling the MEK, though, what a wonderful thing!)

2 Likes

The mono evolver was my first synth back in the day, I hated it so much, skipping encoders meant it was near impossible to dial in any value, I hated the filter, loved the osc’s
People complain about behringer and while I don’t own any of their synths, their build quality was miles above that blue disappointment

  • it apparently affected all the evolver line so I was offered the opportunity to send mine from Australia to us and back at my expense and 250 for a pot replacement board - half the price of the synth :frowning: never went near anything he did since
2 Likes